To quote the great, late Johnnie Colemon, “It works if you work it!” Metaphysical interpretation is but one approach to scripture. It can always be applied to scripture, but it is better and results in a richer experience of scripture when multiple approaches are combined. Other approaches include reading scripture through the lenses of history, allegory, and metaphor. When we think of these approaches as lenses, we uncover an opportunity to consider the author’s intention.
The authors of scripture engage a variety of storytelling and writing formats, ranging from allegory to Greek rhetoric, through which they share with us experiences of life, community, government, and the Divine. Applying various lenses helps to illuminate what was important to the writer about humanity and God, and ultimately, what meaning it might have for us as the reader. We might find that a specific scripture verse or passage doesn’t require metaphysical interpretation, which is not the same as saying it wouldn’t work. Conversely, metaphysical interpretation can be applied to any story or symbol, but it doesn’t always serve a meaningful purpose. We must apply discernment.
More than anything, meeting scripture prayerfully and responsibly with an open heart and curious mind will yield the fullest experience—taking care to remind ourselves that scripture is first and foremost the stories of the authors. The Divine can be revealed to, even experienced by, the reader through these sacred scriptures in and through the meaning we make. Our method of making meaning is our own responsibility and divine opportunity!
Rev. Jacquie Fernández, M.Div.